Halloween and teeth health isn’t something that most have on their mind when costume planning is underway–but it should be.
Children are no doubt looking forward to trick-or-treating and the sweet treats of Halloween, but don’t let the holiday turn into a horrifying oral health nightmare. Halloween and teeth health promotion doesn’t have to take the fun out of the holiday. It is actually a great opportunity to teach and reinforce good oral health habits for life, without depriving children of all the treats and fun. There are ways to keep their smiles safe from creepy cavities this season, by using the following tips to get through this candy-filled holiday.
Let Your Children Enjoy Some of Their Trick or Treat Candy
The key to Halloween and teeth health is to enjoy candy in moderation:
- Accept the fact that your children are going to want to eat their trick-or-treat candy.
- You can really minimize the cavity-causing potential of Halloween treats. Agree before your children go out begging for candy, that you will go through the loot bag with them for safety’s sake and for culling out the type of candy that is more harmful to their teeth.
- Decide on a good number of treats they should keep based on their age, size or other factors. Letting children help decide what is a reasonable amount of candy to keep has benefits beyond good oral health. They’ll learn that all candy is not bad, but that too much sugar can lead to tooth decay.
- After your children come home, go through their bags of Halloween candy together. Then, using the number of treats previously determined, let them pick the candy they want the most.
- At that point, remove the candy they didn’t choose. There are several things you can do with the extra sweets, including donating it to a food bank, freezing it for later, or taking it to the office.
- If you’re really imaginative, let them trade in the bulk of their candy haul for some kind of non-candy prize.
What Kinds of Candy are the Worst Halloween Treats for Your Child’s Teeth?
When it comes to Halloween and teeth health guidelines, the type of candy you allow your child to consume can make a considerable difference. The stickier the candy, the worse it is for teeth. Sticky, chewy candies are cavity-causing monsters.
- Gummies, taffy, and caramels get stuck in the pits and grooves of teeth, where it’s nearly impossible for saliva to wash them away and it’s difficult to brush the sticky residue out.
- The longer the candy remains stuck in their teeth, the more time the bacteria in your mouth have to feed on the candy and produce acid. The more acid produced and the longer amount of time the teeth are exposed to it, the more chance your child has of developing cavities.
- Avoid hard candies, such as jawbreakers, that can break their teeth.
- Sour candy is likely acidic, which can eat away tooth enamel.
- Although our instinct as parents is to have our children brush their teeth after eating candy, it’s best to wait at least 30 to 60 minutes before brushing when they’ve eaten something acidic. The action of brushing can actually increase the erosive action of the acid on tooth enamel. Instead of brushing, give them a glass of water to help swish away the sugars and the acid.
- The least harmful sugary candy is chocolate! It doesn’t stick to teeth like most other candies, and the cocoa in it has many beneficial properties. The darker the chocolate, the less sugar content in it.
What is the Duration of Exposure to Sugary Candy?
The longer you hold candy or sweets in your mouth, the longer the exposure to sugar, and the worse it’s going to be for the teeth. Sucking on a lollipop for half an hour is a long time to expose mouth bacteria to sugar as compared to eating a small bit of chocolate, which disappears in a matter of a few seconds. Bacteria in our mouth breaks down the sugar in Halloween candy to produce acid. The longer the teeth are exposed to acid, the greater the chance that tooth enamel will break down, and this is what causes cavities.
Prolonged exposure to sugar can wreak the most havoc.
How Frequently Should Your Child Eat Their Halloween Candy?
It’s better to eat the candy quickly and empty out the trick-or-treat bag sooner than later because this minimizes an ongoing exposure to sugar. After the big event has passed, make sure the sweets are monitored.
After Halloween is over, candy should be consumed only as a treat right after dinner, when the saliva produced during a meal can cleanse the teeth with protective enzymes and minerals, to protect against cavities. Having a designated treat time can help reinforce the idea of moderation, and can keep them from obsessing over eating candy throughout the day.
Since bedtime comes relatively soon after dinner, your child will be brushing his or her teeth and that will help minimize the potential of developing cavities.
Avoid randomly snacking on leftover candy during the day and don’t put it in your child’s lunchbox as a snack when they have no opportunity to brush their teeth afterward.
Learn More About Halloween and Teeth Health with Regular Care!
Halloween will be over on November 1, but the job of keeping your child’s teeth healthy never ends! Make sure they brush their teeth twice a day, floss once a day, and keep those sugary treats to a minimum. Above all, don’t forget to schedule regular dental visits with Niwot’s Eco-Friendly dentist, Dr. Ashley Niles of Niles Family Dentistry!
Located in Niwot, Colorado at 136 2nd Avenue, Suite 101, Dr. Niles provides dental care for the whole family and serves patients in Boulder, Longmont and other areas of northern Colorado. Contact us online or call today at (720) 744-0001 to schedule an appointment.
Sweet treats are a major part of Halloween, but having a bag of candy doesn’t have to be a horrifying experience for your children’s oral health. Let your little goblins enjoy the holiday and help them learn how to moderate their sweets!